Henry Ford’s arrival in Fremont in August of 1916 to vacation and to attend a widely advertised tractor show there attracted statewide attention. The show was one of many staged in the Midwest from 1913 to 1919 to encourage the growth of power farming by demonstrating that tractors could be more efficient than horses or mules. Strenuous efforts were made by reporters to interview Ford during his stay in Nebraska, but the reclusive manufacturer avoided them whenever possible.
“Henry Ford and his party of officials and workmen, numbering about 25 persons, arrived in Fremont yesterday at 11:30 a.m.,” said the Fremont Evening Tribune on August 7, 1916, “and were taken at once to the Wolz camp on Fremont island in the Platte river that had been put in readiness for the noted manufacturer. Although Mr. Ford had requested that no public reception be given him a big crowd of curious ones, including a big sprinkling of women, was at Union station to greet the noted manufacturer. . . .
“As Mr. Ford stepped from the rear end of the [railroad] car which brought him and his party from Detroit a moving picture operator had his machine lined up for a shot at the famous manufacturer. Mr. Ford had spied the operator and ducked his head as he walked hurriedly through the lane through the crowd to the waiting automobile.
“Included in the party are Mr. Ford’s son, Edsel, superintendents of the Ford factories at Detroit and Dearborn and employees of the tractor factory which is located at Dearborn. An orchestra of six pieces will furnish music for the camping party during its stay at Fremont. [The group also performed each evening at the local high school.] That the culinary department will be well looked after a chef was brought out from Omaha who will have charge of this feature of the camp.”
The Tribune said of Ford’s camp that it was “closely guarded against intruders and none was admitted beyond the Hormel bridge where officers were stationed to turn back the curious. Mr. Ford refused to see the newspaper men. He said that he was here for a vacation and to attend the tractor show as an interested spectator. The Ford tractor would be shown, but it was understood that it was not yet on the market and none would be offered for sale.
“The camp houses occupied by the Detroit visitors have been handsomely refinished. They provide a splendid place for an outing during the warm tractor week. Mr. Ford plans to put in much time looking over his beautiful surroundings. He will be at Ford headquarters at the tractor grounds each day.”
The Fremont tractor show attracted more than 250 tractors from 50 different companies. Fourteen plow manufacturers also displayed their wares. The value of all machinery on the grounds was placed at $1,000,000, while sales reached $1,300,000.